January 7, 2019 - The Lottery

Updated: Mar 9, 2019

In 1946, author Shirley Jackson wrote a story called “The Lottery,” about a small town in which each year citizens gather in the town square for a lottery.

The story begins: “The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green. The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o'clock; in some towns there were so many people that the lottery took two days and had to be started on June 2th, but in this village, where there were only about three hundred people, the whole lottery took less than two hours, so it could begin at ten o'clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner.”

At first glance, you’d think that you were in Mayberry, North Carolina, the fictional idyllic community in the popular 1960s TV comedy The Andy Griffith Show. However, as the story progresses, you realize that you’re closer to the horror film, A Nightmare on Elm Street, than to Mayberry. And that’s because, as the story ends, you realize that the one who draws the “winning” ticket gets stoned to death by everyone else.

The story caused a furor but only because it hit home, especially in the American south, which, at that time, was still corrupted by Jim Crow racial segregation laws. But the message one could take from this story is broader: we are all, no matter the façade, sinners, corrupted, evil, and in need of God’s grace. Hence, Jesus Christ came, dying for us despite our sins: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom. 5:8.

May not a day go by where we don’t claim Christ’s death for ourselves, and seek to reflect in our lives the righteousness offered us by that death.

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